The Kony 2012 video came up on my iPhone contemporaneously while eating at Zabar’s in NYC with a German academic.
and Christina Cauterucci’s Slate commentary…
We had a conversation about it, and I marvelled at the kind of impact it seemed to be having. He waved it off dismissively, saying that the Germans were just behind Americans on the “euphoria curve” for such things, and that it would flame out in short order.
He did a quick napkin diagram of an inverse logarithmic curve with a black marker pen to underscore his point. The Germans were on the positive slope side and Americans were at the turning point tangent to the top.
Curiously, while I did indeed forget about the video, I do remember having a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with salmon spread.
So, it resonates with me that my German friend’s observations and those of Cauterucci concur(ed).
This is perhaps one manifestation of the journalistic catechism, “if it bleeds it leds (sic)…”
What’s worse, however little impact the story had as it played out, in having become the archetype for such stories, it created a morass of inurred, disinterested clicktivists.
There’s a similar phenomenon going on in the gaming world. Generations of teenages have grown up playing massive multiplayer, immersive, more and more photorealistic bloody games, and are increasingly desensitized to violence.
In one study by Ken Bohm (will get reference), it was demonstrated that the number of hours a high school student spent playing violent games was inversely proportional to the number of violent photographs they were able to correctly identify as depicting a violent act.
As a consequence, like the armchair clicktivist, we’re becoming slacktivists.
Somehow, we need to inculcate a greater sense agency in people’s minds through the media. Perhaps the issues need to be brought closer to home through sponsorship, like hosting a Fresh Air Child or “adopting” a Save the Children girl or boy.